Last updated on October 18th, 2022
What eats moss? This is the question on everyone’s mind.
When you think of fungi, the first thing that will come to your mind is mushrooms. However, when I was teaching my class the difference between fungi and plants, many of my students said that moss is a fungus.
But contrary to popular opinion, most are not fungi. Instead, this unique plant grows nearly everywhere in the non-flowering plant.
Moreover, these tiny plants that can spread like a carpet on the floor of a forest are also a part of the staple diet of several animals.
This took my students by surprise, so I decided to compile the following list of animals that eat moss.
Animals that eat moss:
- Musk Oxen
- Amano Shrimps
- Betta fishes
List of animals that eat moss:
Pikas are small mountain-dwelling mammals easily distinguished by their short limbs, fur coat, and lack of tails. The rabbit is the closest relative of the Pika.
Being a mountain-dweller, the Pika has to survive on moss or similar small plants readily available on the mountainside.
You can find pikas even on the higher reaches of the mountain, and in these parts, moss is the singular vegetation you will find.
Being an herbivorous creature, moss provides the Pika with necessary nutrients.
Like the rabbit, the digestive system of the Pika can convert low-quality food into high-quality protein.
Hence, even though moss accounts for sixty percent of a pika’s diet, it is sufficient to meet all the animal’s nutritional requirements.
Snails love to eat moss, and they are even known to burrow into it. If you have pet snails and want to keep the creatures warm, it is good to create moss bedding for them.
You will find that snails remain on the bedding, and they will nibble into it. When you make the bedding for the tank to keep your snails, it is good to create a substrate with moss and coir.
Make a moist environment within the tank to help the moss grow. If you create a sterile environment within the tank, neither your snails will like it nor will you aid the growth of the moss.
Thus, if you want to ensure that your snails are happy in the tank and nibble the moss that you have placed inside, create an environment in the tank to help the growth of the moss.
Caribou is primarily a North American reindeer native to the Arctic, polar, sub-polar, and tundra regions.
The region’s harsh climatic conditions make it difficult for the animal to forage for adequate food. The vegetation of the region is also limited.
You will find that caribous mostly eat foliage, but during winter, they eat moss. The lack of any other alternative food source compels the caribou to consume moss.
Moreover, moss is one of the few plants that can thrive in the harshest conditions, and caribou moss is one of those plants.
Along with that, caribou-moss is rich in carbohydrates that the animal needs to consume to survive the harsh winter months.
Like caribou moss, the common moss provides the animal with the necessary nutrition to help it survive the cold winter.
4. Musk oxen
Muskoxen are unique animals native to the Arctic region, and their thick coat and curved horns can easily distinguish them.
As vegetation is relatively sparse in the region, musk oxen are known to feed on any kind of vegetation available there.
During summer, when there is slightly more vegetation in the Arctic region, you will find musk oxen feeding on grass, flowers, and sedge.
But during winter, when these plants become unavailable, the musk oxen have to depend on lichens and moss to meet their nutritional requirement.
As moss can grow in the harshest climates, you will find that these tiny green plants form a regular part of the diet of musk ox.
5. Amano shrimps
There are several species of shrimps that consume moss.
Being foragers by nature, shrimps will nibble through the moss in search of food and, when necessary, consume it.
But the Amano shrimp does not eat moss when it forms a part of the environment.
If the Amano shrimps are bred in captivity like it is often done in many aquariums in Japan, the creature is often fed moss balls.
When given moss balls, the food often gets attached to the balls, and the shrimp climbs up on the ball to eat the food.
In the process, the Amano shrimp consumes the moss in the moss ball. The primary source of food for Amano shrimp is algae, which helps keep the aquarium clean.
6. Betta fish
Betta fishes are carnivorous, meaning they do not consume moss like other animals or sea creatures.
Instead, they prefer an animal-based diet to fulfill their nutritional requirement.
However, aquarists will tell you that to help Betta fishes survive and to ensure that they improve their appetites, you need to include Java moss in your aquarium.
This is not because the fish will consume the plant, but it will help create an environment similar to its natural surroundings.
In the wild, Betta fishes usually find insects and other small creatures that would normally be food around the Java moss.
Therefore, by including Java moss in the aquarium, you would be replicating the natural atmosphere, which would help your pet Betta fish improve its appetite and stay healthy.
Lemmings are tiny rodents that are found in the Arctic and tundra regions.
As evident from its natural habitat, the creature has to depend on the sparse vegetation available in the region to fulfill its nutritional requirement.
However, lemmings are pretty small, and they can easily consume leaves, flowers, moss, and small plants to fulfill their nutritional requirements.
During the summer months, there is still more vegetation for the lemmings to consume, but during winter, the rodents have no option but to solely depend on moss as their food source.
Furthermore, as lemmings do not hibernate during winter, it becomes more difficult for them to find suitable food sources.
Therefore, during winter, you will find that the creatures have become dependent on moss as their primary source of food.
Aside from the animals that eat moss, we have written an article on the list of animals that eat seaweed.